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Canada’s Moltex small nuclear reactor project -its plutonium process brings danger of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Diane Francis: Trudeau’s multi-million dollar nuclear deal called out by non-proliferation experts ,

Scientists fear that the technology used to extract plutonium from spent fuel could be used to make nuclear bombs, Diane Francis Aug 12, 2021  In May, the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) called out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government over a deal he has approved and funded that critics say will undermine the goal of nuclear non-proliferation, according to an article published in the Hill Times and recently republished in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Moltex Energy was selected by NB Power and the Government of New Brunswick to develop its new reactor technology and locate it at the Point Lepreau nuclear plant site by the early 2030s. Moltex is one of several companies that are promoting small, “next generation” nuclear reactors to replace fossil fuels in the production of electricity.

Moltex, a privately owned company that is based in the United Kingdom and has offices in Saint John, N.B., says it will “recycle nuclear waste” from New Brunswick’s closed Point Lepreau nuclear plant for use in its small-scale nuclear reactor. Federal funding and approval was announced on March 18 by Dominic LeBlanc, a  New Brunswick MP who serves as minister of intergovernmental affairs.

The scientists dispute the claim that this is “recycling” and are concerned because the technology Moltex wants to use to extract plutonium, a key ingredient in nuclear weapons, from spent fuel could be used by other countries to make nuclear bombs. Decades ago, the U.S. and many of its allies, including Canada, took action to prevent this type of reprocessing from taking place.

“The idea is to use the plutonium as fuel for a new nuclear reactor, still in the design stage. If the project is successful, the entire package could be replicated and sold to other countries if the Government of Canada approves the sale,” reads the article.

On May 25, nine high-level American non-proliferation experts sent an open letter to Trudeau expressing concern that by “backing spent-fuel reprocessing and plutonium extraction, the Government of Canada will undermine the global nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime that Canada has done so much to strengthen.”

The signatories to the letter include senior White House appointees and other government advisers who worked under six U.S. presidents and who hold professorships at the Harvard Kennedy School, Princeton University and other eminent institutions.

The issue of nuclear proliferation dates back to 1974, when Canada got a black eye after India tested its first nuclear weapon using plutonium that was largely extracted using the CIRUS reactor, which was supplied by Canada for peaceful uses. Shortly after, other countries attempted to repurpose plutonium from reactors and were stopped — except for Pakistan, which, like India, succeeded in creating atomic weapons.

The Hill Times pointed out that, “To this day, South Korea is not allowed to extract plutonium from used nuclear fuel on its own territory — a  long-lasting political legacy of the 1974 Indian explosion and its aftermath — due to proliferation concerns.”

The letter to Trudeau concluded: “Before Canada makes any further commitments in support of reprocessing, we urge you to convene high-level reviews of both the non-proliferation and environmental implications of Moltex’s reprocessing proposal including international experts. We believe such reviews will find reprocessing to be counterproductive on both fronts.”

The scientists’ letter has not yet been answered by the government. However, Canadians deserve to be fully briefed on all this and its implications. They deserve to know who owns Moltex, what the risks are to non-proliferation and why taxpayers are sinking millions of dollars into a project that’s morally questionable and potentially hazardous.Read and sign up for Diane Francis’ newsletter on America at

August 16, 2021 - Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, weapons and war

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